A Millenium's Monument Which is Truly Worth Its Name
What can you do on some random, sleepy Sunday afternoon in Beijing? Naturally, in a city with a population higher than that of many of the world's countries it shouldn't in the least pose a problem. For me the art seems to be the first and natural choice. However, most unfortunately, many foreign art lovers residing in the capital of China are not aware of the existence of a great deal more art venues than the 798 Arts District.
Naturally, there is a great deal of alternatives for that overly popular place. One of by no means common and certainly deserving more publicity art parlors is located in the spacious confinements of the Beijing Millenium Monument – rather extraordinary and at first glance even a bit shocking building, that in line with a structure constructed for the celebrations of the second millenium resembles a gigantic sundial confidently pointing to the arrival of a new era in the history of China.
Again, it escapes many peoples attention that one of the cities most interesting public arts museums is located within its lofty confinements. The place in itself is grandiose and imposing, housing numerous expositions on its three underground levels of profound size. During the long, warmer months, rather imposing square in front of the gallery is also used for the purposes of temporary exhibitions.
The place represents a manifold approach to Fine Arts, and apart from paintings presents examples of contemporary art including sculptures, furniture, and remarkable variety of audio-visual and free standing installations of various sizes, colors and forms. Contrary to the regulations traditionally accompanying such places, where signs "don't touch" are almost as much in evidence as the arts exhibits themselves, here you can actually touch some of the elements belonging to exposition and sit down on the furniture making the display, Stemming from that, the experience of exploring the art gains an entirely intimate dimension, as much as it can get in the midst of numerous groups of visitors. Selfie - lovers should also be content, as the gallery imposes no photo restrictions.
The place displays many interesting examples of audio visual arts, which often at the first seemingly and unquestionably portrays a common everyday picture of the world as we know it, but after a longer scrutiny seems to defy basic laws of the ever powerful physics and brings up the question, "can it really be?"
While the place is in its essence the great edifice of modernity, it simultaneously pays tribute to rich artistic traditions of Chinese past, with an impressive series of reliefs bringing the bygone ages back to life. They feature Confucian scholars, emperors, thinkers, political leaders and innumerable individuals whose life and work significantly contributed to the rich treasury of Chinese civilization.
As it is impossible to do the justice to the extremely extensive and varied expositions presented in the gallery and deal with each interesting part of it at length it deserves, I will just add that occasionally It may even satisfy the tastes of lovers of modern architecture, of which needless to say the very building of the gallery is the best example itself.
In the 21st century, and with an overwhelming flood of buildings employing fancy and often entirely undeserved names rather vainly aimed at increasing the empty interest round them, The China Millennium Monument positively surprises and stands out as a place that is home not only to art in its most narrow and singular aspect, but to the arts in all of their wonderful pluralism and multitude. The art that alone still escapes the precise definition of human languages.
How to get there: The place is located just outside the Line 1's Military Museum Subway Station EXIT A, or in case of travelling by Line 9 EXIT E
As befits most arts venues in Beijing, the entry is entirely free of charge and the place open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.(last guest can enter at 4.10 pm)